People and Place: Dequindre Cut Greenway Ride

Dequindre Cut Selfie - Detroit

It Starts with Place…

Detroit’s Dequindre Cut is another gem here in the city hiding from many right in plain sight. Tucked down below grade, the Cut is our rails-to-trails project along what used to be a section of the Grand Trunk Railroad. It currently runs just over a mile in length and connects the river with the southern edge of Eastern Market. But more than a scenic greenway, bicycle trail, or jogging spot, the Dequindre is a living, evolving urban graffiti and mural park and neighborhood link.

On Saturday morning, I grabbed my camera and set out on another adventure that’s been on my list since moving to Detroit: a bike-powered urban photo safari along the Dequindre Cut.

 …But Always Comes Back to People

As with seemingly every other day here in the city, exploring by bike brought me in contact with my neighbors in new, unexpected, and serendipitous ways. First there was Andre, writer and philosopher, whom I encountered walking and taking in the trail for the very first time. He sagely reminded me that you can’t think about moving into the future until you’ve dealt with your past. (He didn’t know he was talking to me about more than the City of Detroit’s efforts to fix blight. Or maybe he did.)

Then, at the northern end just before the pavement dead-ends into grass, I met a local hawk perched high in the tree. It was desperately trying to evade the squawking, aerial attacks of an inflamed squadron of finches and robins.

And finally there was Roger, the shopkeeper, who hailed me asking for coffee as I rode along a side street in Eastern Market. Yet his was not a run-of-the-mill panhandler’s plea. You see, he wanted to give me money to go get him a cup of joe. He was working the store alone that morning and couldn’t leave to go himself. I must have had the strangest look on my face as I stood there incredulous, watching as he pulled a five dollar bill from his wallet. He handed it to me saying, “Sweet. Lots of sugar. And get yourself something, too.”

Now, not having been sent on a errand to the store like this in decades, a sense of pride kicked in. A stranger. In Detroit. Was giving me cash. To go get coffee?! Speeding off on my bike, I determined to be the best coffee fetcher ever. A few minutes later, when I handed Roger his cup of large, extra-sweet coffee, I slid the five back in his hand, “Funny, but the coffee cart refused to take your money.” He looked at me cockeyed, paused, then smiled.


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